Most Europeans remain concerned about illegal migration

In this study, the Migration Research Institute reviews and interprets the overall survey of Századvég, called “Project Europe”, on immigration. The data show that European societies agree on the broader issue of migration in a number of important areas.

Europeans’ concern about illegal immigration is not moderating

Three-quarters (75%) of Europeans are worried about the influx of illegal migrants into their own country. Examining certain country groups, it can be stated that the rate of those who express their concerns is higher in the founding member states and in the traditional target countries that joined the integration in the 20th century. At the same time, almost two-thirds (65%) of the respondents in the V4 countries are concerned about the problem of the influx of illegal migrants.

Migration, Project Europe, Századvég

The survey also asked why Europeans think immigrants come to the continent. While in 2016 (the second peak of the migration crisis) a narrow majority (51%) believed that the majority had fled their homeland to the EU to save their lives, in 2020 only 37% thought so.

At the same time, the share of those who say that most people come for economic reason and social welfare has increased steadily (from 47% to 57%).

Migration, Project Europe, Századvég

Europeans expect Brussels to take stronger action

More than two-thirds (67%) of those surveyed believe that the European Union is not managing the migration crisis properly. While there was a majority in all member states of those who were dissatisfied with the EU’s crisis management, the worst “certificate” was issued by two front countries, Greece and Italy:

82% of Greeks and 81% of Italians rated Brussels’ performance as poor.

Respondents expect more efficient border protection from the European Union, even though this is basically a member state competence. More than three-quarters of the respondents (78%) agree that Brussels should protect European borders more efficiently.

The share of those expecting more efficient border protection is highest in two member states with external borders: in Malta (90%) and Hungary (88%).

The relocation of asylum seekers is already revealing the division between “Westerners” and “Easterners” (or, putting it otherwise, the “old” and the “new” member states), pointing out one of the key reasons why quotas should not be a way out of the migration crisis for the EU and its member states. In the “old” member states, support for the quota plan is 59%, while in the former socialist countries and the V4 countries, only 30 and 28% of respondents, respectively, support Brussels’ plans for a mandatory relocation of asylum seekers.

Interestingly, in the Visegrad countries, opposition to the quota plan is exactly twice as high (56%) as support for it, on the basis of which it can be stated that Brussels’ efforts to implement the mandatory relocation of asylum seekers do not meet the expectations of the citizens of the Visegrad countries.

It is clear that both the front countries and key target countries for immigration have also lined up behind the proposal, as the quota is primarily a relief from their point of view. The member states that reject mass (illegal) migration and admission can be found on the other side.

Migration,  Project Europe, Századvég

Instead of immigration, Europeans support childbearing

There is a clear demand from the majority (53%) of respondents for attempting to solve demographic problems by increasing birth rates and for supporting families instead of immigration. A vast majority of respondents (69%) essentially agreed that their countries should rely on internal resources and support local families instead of immigration. However, the difference in emphasis between the two groups of countries was also echoed here: 65% of respondents in the “old” member states agreed with the statement, compared to 81% in the post-socialist countries and 78% in the V4 countries.  

Thus, it can be stated that respondents in the former socialist bloc, including Hungary, consider the protection and support of families a fundamental expectation of their governments. The encouragement of immigration is not considered key to overcoming demographic and related economic difficulties. Moreover, this view is shared by the majority of Western European societies.

Migration, Project Europe, Századvég

Please find the full analysis here.

The Project Europe research

In the first half of 2016, the Századvég Foundation conducted a public opinion poll covering all 28 EU member states, with the aim of analysing the opinions of EU citizens regarding the issues that most affect the future of the Union. In a unique way, Project28 conducted the widest possible survey of 1,000 randomly selected adults in each country, thus a total of 28,000 individuals. Gaining an understanding of society’s sense of prosperity and mapping the population’s attitudes towards the performance of the European Union, the migration crisis and the growing threat of terrorism were among the most important subjects of the analysis. The Századvég Foundation, on behalf of the Hungarian Government, conducted the research again in 2017, 2018 and 2019, which continued to reflect on the topics that most determined the European political and social discourse.

In 2020, the survey, now called the Project Europe, continued, with the aim of mapping the population’s attitude towards the most important public issues affecting our continent. In addition to society’s sense of prosperity, the performance of the European Union and the attitudes towards the migration crisis, in line with the latest challenges affecting Europe, the dominant theme of this year’s poll is the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and anti-Semitism. In addition to the EU member states, the 2020 research covered the United Kingdom, Norway and Switzerland, interviewing a total of 30,000 randomly selected adults using the CATI method.

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